by Leo Jakobson | July 21, 2016

MGM Remakes the Central Strip
MGM Resorts International's outdoor Park, stretching between the New York--New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and the soon-to-disappear Monte Carlo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, is an outdoor experience that brings in more strolling and relaxing space, along with dining and nightlife venues, as well as a number of areas that can be screened off for group events.

The Monte Carlo is becoming two properties: the 2,700-room Park MGM luxury concept; and NoMad Las Vegas, based on New York's high-end NoMad Hotel.

It also opens onto Toshiba Plaza, a two-acre, open-air event space facing the new 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena's 175-foot-by-45-foot video wall. The plaza has three separate stages and also faces the 5,300-seat Park Theater, opening later this year.

Built with the express intent of "making it usable by groups," according to MGM Resorts International's senior vice president and chief sales officer, Michael Dominguez, the Arena's event spaces include five lounges with capacities ranging from 150 to 700, two 75-person party suites, a party deck with a capacity of 460, and four outdoor terraces with a combined capacity of 600 that overlook the Plaza. In addition, there is the 18,000-square-foot Hyde Lounge, an offshoot of Bellagio's Hyde nightclub in the arena.

One of the biggest pieces of news in Las Vegas this year was the June 22 announcement by the National Hockey League approving an expansion team for Las Vegas -- the league's 31st -- which will use the T-Mobile Arena as its home ice beginning in the 2017 - 2018 season. From a meetings-industry perspective, the hockey news means 41 regular-season home games a year that planners can use to entertain large and small groups of clients and incentive winners. In hockey set-up, there will be 17,500 seats.

Aside from adding one of the few major types of entertainment Las Vegas does not already have -- a professional sports team -- the massive pre-sale of season tickets even before the NHL announcement means that a large group of locals will be coming to The Strip on a regular basis.

The Lake and the Dragon
Steve Wynn is making some major changes at his Wynn Las Vegas and Encore resort, replacing the Wynn Golf Course behind the two current hotel towers with a 1,000-room hotel and a 38-acre lagoon. Known as Wynn Paradise Park, the massive water feature will be unlike anything else on The Strip in size and scale, Wynn said in a release, noting it will "reinvent Las Vegas and make the whole venue an entertainment attraction, an idyllic beach paradise surrounded by white-sand beaches."

The lagoon will also be surrounded by a boardwalk and offer watersports beyond swimming, such as paddle boarding, parasailing, and waterskiing, as well as a massive nightly fireworks show. There will be a small casino, several nightlife and dining venues, and a substantial new retail portion -- Wynn Plaza, which will have more than 75,500 square feet of luxury shopping, and will be accessible from Las Vegas Boulevard.

Opening later this year on the north end of The Strip, the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino will be Las Vegas' first wholly Asian-themed resort, and its owners are serious about making it a genuine cultural experience, with a "carefully curated array of Asian-focused gaming options, restaurants, and amenities," says David Jacoby, the COO. All signs and front-of-the-house staff will be multilingual, and Feng Shui was incorporated into the design from day one.

The 204-room boutique property will have a 4,500-square-foot spa with four treatment rooms and treatments that include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicines, and total relaxation techniques; a 27,500-square-foot casino with an emphasis on Asian-favored table games including Baccarat and Pai Gow, as well as slots; an outdoor pool and garden; and an indoor-outdoor tea garden and lounge area headed up by Las Vegas' only tea sommelier. The latter will include teas sourced directly from generations-old farms throughout Asia, a water feature, and Gongfu tables for traditional tea ritual ceremonies.

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This article appears in the July/August 2016 issue of Incentive.